Archives & Manuscripts - Guide to the Collections
The collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives contain more than 400,000 photographs and 30,000,000 documents, including government records, business records, maps, letters, diaries, scrapbooks and architectural drawings.
The Collections
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Fairview Elementary School
Original Poems by Students, 1942
These poems relating to World War II were written by students at Fairview Elementary School in the western section of Birmingham in April 1942.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Faunsdale Plantation
Papers, 1840-1970
In 1843 Thomas A. Harrison, a native of Virginia, traveled to Alabama accompanied by a party of slaves, and purchased the property in Marengo County that became Faunsdale Plantation. Harrison later sent for his new wife, Louisa Collins Harrison, a native of North Carolina. In 1844 the Harrisons had their only child, Louise Collins Harrison. Thomas A. Harrison died in 1857. Louisa managed Faunsdale and her late husband's estate until 1863 when she married William A. Stickney, a priest in the Protestant Episcopal Church and a native of Alabama. Stickney served in several parishes and ministered to the slaves and later freedmen at Faunsdale. Louisa died in 1896, William in 1907. The plantation remains in the family today. The collection contains extensive correspondence, diaries, photographs, financial records, slave records (including births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and harvest records) and other material documenting several generations of the family.
Size : 56 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Federal Labor Union #23252. American Federation of Labor
Charter, 1942
Size : 1 flat box
Collection Guide Available : No
Federation of Women's Missionary Society of Birmingham
Minutes, 1911-1923
This volume contains minutes of the semi-annual and occasional meetings of the General Board of the Federation. The group included representatives of missionary societies from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal and Christian denominations.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 volume)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Fell, Charles A.
Memoirs, 1889-1969
Charles A. Fell was born in Helena, Alabama, in 1889. He began his career in journalism as a reporter, first with the Birmingham Age-Herald (1907-1909) and later with the Montgomery Advertiser (1910-1911). In 1912, he began working for the Birmingham News, and except for brief jobs at two other newspapers during World War I, he spent the rest of his career at the News. Fell became the managing editor on the News in 1922 and remained in that position for the next thirty years. In 1955 he was appointed editor-in-chief, a position he held until his retirement in 1958. He died in Birmingham in 1969. The memoirs consist of five scrapbooks and one typescript of a book. The scrapbooks contain correspondence, reminiscences, newspaper clippings, photographs, and a variety of printed material, the bulk of which cover Fell's career as a reporter and editor with the Birmingham News. Among the subjects covered in the scrapbooks are several incidents prominent in the history of Birmingham, including the Banner Mine explosion, the Shiloh Baptist Church tragedy, a visit to the city by temperance advocate Carrie Nation, the implementation of a program for the mass treatment of venereal disease, and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the city during the early decades of the twentieth century. Also included is genealogical material concerning the Fell family. The typescript is of Invasion from the North: the Civil War Centennial Feature from the Southern Point of View by Birmingham writer Clint Bonner. Each of the five scrapbooks has an index.
Size : 1 reel microfilm
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Ferguson, Hill
Hill Ferguson was a Birmingham businessman active I many civic organizations, including the Birmingham Historical Society. Fascinated by the history of his hometown, Ferguson worked from the 1890s until his death in1971 to collect photographs, newspaper clippings, theater programs, unpublished histories and biographies, and a wide variety of ephemera documenting Birmingham history. Having come of age in the late nineteenth century, Ferguson witnessed many events from Birmingham’s early history, such as the city’s emergence as an iron and steel manufacturing center, the emergence of a local musical culture, and early sporting events. He knew many of the city’s founders and wrote biographical sketches and histories of events and organizations for his scrapbooks. He wrote to people of historical significance and their children requesting information and material. An index to the collection is available in the Archives.
Size : 129 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Finch, Lucine Gordon
Lucine Finch was a poet, dramatist, graphic artist, and magazine storywriter born in Alabama in 1875. Finch published a number of books, articles, and poems including "The Butterfly" and "A Sermon in Patchwork." Her last known published writings date from 1917. This collection contains two short stories, The Darkey and the Deed and Mammy's Past Crust, the first written by Lucine Finch and the second written by her mother, Julia Neely Finch in the early twentieth century. Both stories illustrate stereotypes of African Americans common in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : No
Flowers, Richmond
Scrapbook, 1962-1972
Newspaper clippings compiled by the staff of the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department on Flower’s service as Alabama Attorney General.
Size : 1 flat box
Collection Guide Available : No
Flowers, Walter
Papers Relating to the Integration of the University of Alabama, 1955-1958
In 1956, Autherine Lucy became the first African American to attend the University of Alabama. In reaction to riots by white students and others, the university expelled Lucy a few days after her enrollment. This collection contains letters written to the Student Government Association president Walter Flowers regarding school integration and the Lucy controversy. The collection also contains newspaper clippings and whole newspapers reporting the events.
Size : ¾ linear foot, 1 flat box
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Folsom, James Elisha
Scrapbooks, 1945-1968
These scrapbooks, compiled by staff of the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department, contain newspaper clippings relating to James E. “Big Jim” Folsom’s two terms as governor of Alabama and various political campaigns.
Size : 4 volumes
Collection Guide Available : No
Forman, Elizabeth
Papers, 1832-1961
Mary Elizabeth Forman was born in Gadsden, Alabama, in 1915 and was educated in the Birmingham public schools. She attended Agnes Scott College (1932-1936), received her M.A. in mathematics for the University of Alabama in 1940 and enrolled in Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned an M.A. in personnel and guidance. Forman briefly taught at the University of Alabama and at Florida State College for Women before joining the faculty at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham in 1944 as an associate professor in the College of Education and Psychology. She remained at Samford until her death in 1977. She sat on the Mountain Brook Board of Education, on several other school boards and was a teacher and deacon at the South Highland Presbyterian Church. This collection spans the years 1823-1961, but the bulk of the material falls into the period of Forman's education and career, namely 1932-1961. Papers pertaining specifically to family and friends are largely those of Elizabeth Forman's father, James R. Forman. They include personal, business, and legal correspondence, legal documents, licenses, promissory notes, tax receipts, and an insurance policy. Other materials relating to family and friends include photographs; church bulletins; family military records dating as far back as the Civil War; pamphlets and material pertaining to Mary Forman's social activities; newspaper clippings; and an autograph book. The files relating to Forman's formal education contain correspondence (primarily from her mother), information on her 25th class reunion at Agnes Scott, church bulletins, photographs, commencement programs, report cards, and New York City playbills and brochures. Forman's teaching career is documented by correspondence, financial reports, pamphlets, bulletins, notes, and newspaper clippings. Her personal life and travels in the United States and abroad are reflected in photographs, postcards, and correspondence. The collection also contains material relating to the American Association of University Women.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Foster, Vera Chandler
Papers, 1958-1971
This collection contains letters to and from Foster concerning her participation in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. There is also a small amount of material relating to racial relations in Alabama during the early 1960s.
Size : ¾ liner foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Fowler, Thomas
“Time Book No. 1, At the Coal Mines Shelby County, Ala.,” 1857-1864
This small volume, kept by a man whose name appears to be Thomas Fowler, contains time work records for coal mines in Shelby County. The locations and owners of the mines are unclear. The volume also contains lists of provisions, names and addresses, information relating to the opening of a hotel in Pennsylvania, and miscellaneous notes.
Size : 1 volume
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Frazier, Octavia Fletcher
History of the Study Circle, 1955
Octavia Fletcher was born in Athens, Alabama in 1873. She served as secretary of the Birmingham Suffrage Association and was an organizer of the League of Women Voters in Birmingham. Frazier was also active in lineage societies and Birmingham area women’s clubs and was a founding member of the Study Circle. This club focused on the study of literature and pursued philanthropic activities. Many of the club’s members were the wives of prominent Alabama men including two governors and several judges, mayors, and legislatures. The collection consists of a copy of the speech given by Octavia Fletcher at the 50th anniversary celebration of the study circle; a history of it's constitution, by-laws, and motto; and brief biographies of several members.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Freedom Quilting Bee
Office Files, 1966-1979
The Freedom Quilting Bee was a cooperative begun in 1966 by a group of African American women in Wilcox County, Alabama. The cooperative produced quilts and other items that were sold in various stores nationwide and by direct mail. This collection includes correspondence and financial records.
Size : 2 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
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